Pressure ulcers develop on parts of the body that are put under sustained friction or pressure. They often affect people with restricted mobility. Typically, pressure ulcers begin as a discoloured area of skin, and this can be sore or itchy when touched. Medical professionals refer to this as a category one pressure ulcer.
Preventing the Development of Pressure Ulcers
It can be challenging to prevent category one pressure ulcers from deteriorating. This is particularly true for people who are unable to move or change position regularly. Although repositioning is the best way to relieve pressure on areas of affected skin, it can also cause friction and this can cause skin to shear.
For category one pressure ulcer treatment, the first consideration is usually working out how often people should move. Once this has been determined, it is important to coach them in how best to adjust their positions without rubbing their skin against surfaces. Care teams may coach patients on the correct positioning when lying or sitting down, and train them to adjust positions regularly. This can involve planning a repositioning timetable.
Generally, advice for preventing the development of pressure ulcers includes:
- Moving about as often as once every 15 minutes
- Keeping skin dry and clean
- Positioning so that the skin will not rub or slide against surfaces
- Making sure not to stay sedentary in one position for more than four hours at a time
Treating Existing Pressure Ulcers
The risk of developing a pressure ulcer can be reduced by getting into a good routine and regularly changing positions. However, it is likely that patients will need special equipment to help reduce friction and discomfort when moving from one position to another. For those at high risk of developing ulcers, care teams may advise using pressure-redistributing cushions and mattresses and dressing the affected areas
Repositioning will also only help to a certain extent with pressure ulcers that have deteriorated into a shallow blister (category two), a deep wound through several layers of skin (category three), and a very deep wound that extends into the muscle (category four). Often, the key to treating more severe pressure ulcers is cleaning and dressing wounds regularly, whilst relieving pressure.
Many products are available to help relieve discomfort and treat all stages of pressure ulcers, including:
- Bedding: Using innovative low-friction bedding can help to prevent shear stress whilst repositioning, which reduces the risk of skin damage due to friction.
- Barrier creams: Ointments and creams are typically ineffective for pressure ulcers, but care teams may recommend barrier creams for wounds that are related to incontinence.
- Cushions: Foam cushions can help to redistribute pressure from affected areas and can be placed on the seats of wheelchairs or in bed.
- Bootees: Low-friction bootees can reduce the shear stress that is placed on pressure ulcers affecting the heel. This makes it less likely that the skin will break due to friction.
- Undergarments: Low-friction undergarments perform like the bootees and bedding; regulating friction between the skin and a contacting surface to reduce the risk of pressure ulcer development.
- Mattresses: A variety of mattress types are available for people at risk of pressure ulcer development. The most sophisticated of these uses a pump system to regulate airflow into the mattress.
Before investing in one of the solutions above, it is important to consult the care team as the solution may not be appropriate for all conditions.
APA Parafricta Ltd’s range of Parafricta®-branded medical garments and bedding have been clinically proven to offer protection to fragile skin from the damaging effects of friction, which can lead to painful skin breakdown and ulceration (medically known as “pressure” or decubitus ulcers and commonly known as “bedsores”). The products can also ease movement in bed for patients with impaired mobility.
Parafricta® medical products are expertly designed to be easy to use and apply to the areas most at risk of skin damage and ulceration. They are washable and reusable. Bootees are used to protect the vulnerable heel area and undergarments to protect the lower back and buttocks. Parafricta® bedding offers greater ease of movement and comfort to patients whilst in bed, including for patient suffering other fragile skin conditions (e.g. premature babies and burns patients).
Parafricta® medical products incorporate proprietary ultra-low friction fabrics to protect patient skin. Friction can cause skin to stick to surfaces on sheets and mattresses which leads to jolting or wrenching and damages the skin’s structure and integrity. Parafricta® ultra-low friction fabrics move much more freely and smoothly over skin and the underlying surface. The technology employed in Parafricta® products is covered by granted and pending patents (for example European Patent EP1 641420 B1).
Published research has demonstrated that use of Parafricta® garments can reduce the cost of treating skin damage by £63,000 per 100 at risk patients. Elimination of “pressure” ulcers is a key objective of the NHS’s Harm-Free Care agenda and the new Clinical Commissioning Groups in England are incentivising successful reduction in the prevalence of skin damage with extra payments to providers of acute and community care.
Parafricta technology has other potential applications in the non-medical arena such as sportswear and consumer products. Please contact Parafricta if you have a non-medical enquiry.
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